The Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County (DOH-Okaloosa) recently recognized Bel Aire Terrace in Crestview for becoming a smoke-free apartment complex. The policy prohibits smoking inside the units to reduce tenants' exposure to secondhand smoke.

The Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida (BTFF), the state’s comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation program, has been working to educate public and private housing managers about the benefits of smoke-free policies for over three years and is encouraged by this development.

“No exposure to cigarette smoke is safe,” said Dr. Karen Chapman, director of DOH-Okaloosa. “Apartment complexes implementing these policies are benefiting its resident nonsmokers, including children, from potential exposure.”

The BTFF’s list of multi-unit properties that have enacted voluntary smoke-free policies has grown to more than 1,000 properties since tracking began in 2010.

Benefits of smoke-free buildings include:

• Better health. Smoke-free air laws decrease secondhand smoke exposure among nonsmokers, reduces heart attack and asthma hospitalizations and encourages smokers to quit.

• Increased safety. Smoke-free policies reduce fire risks for residents, owners and property managers.

• Decreased secondhand smoke exposure. Secondhand smoke can travel from other units through doorways, cracks in walls, electrical lines, plumbing and ventilation systems.

Smokers residing in smoke-free housing should be aware that it is difficult, but not impossible to quit smoking. In fact, 63.5 percent of adults who have ever smoked have quit, and there are more former smokers in Florida than current smokers.

Having a comprehensive quit plan increases the success rate. Tobacco Free Florida’s Quit Your Way program makes it easier than ever for tobacco users to access evidence-based, free tools and services to help them quit tobacco. For more information, please visit tobaccofreeflorida.com/quityourway.

People can also access Tobacco Free Florida’s online Cost Calculator to find out how much money they could save by quitting smoking at tobaccofreeflorida.com/calculator.